An Interview With Stargate's Dr. Fraiser, Teryl Rothery

Teryl Rothery When Dr. Fraiser made her first appearance on Stargate SG-1 in the first season episode The Broca Divide, her future with the SGC had not yet been decided for certain. Her on-screen moments struck a chord with viewers, however, and the producers liked what they saw. Soon Teryl Rothery found herself returning for another guest appearance, and since then Dr. Fraiser has become an indispensable member of the SG-1 family. "The role of Dr. Fraiser was offered to me as a guest star that MAY recur," Teryl explains. "I believe it was around the third season when I was put on a Series Regular contract. We're now in our sixth season, and I'm still loving every minute, and very, very grateful!"

Teryl has enjoyed the evolution of her character during those years. Dr. Fraiser has become very close to all of the members of SG-1, and Teryl notes that her connection extends beyond her role as simply a physician. "Fraiser's character has certainly evolved over the past five seasons. We see more of how much she genuinely cares for her co-workers, and how she is very much a part of the team. Especially her relationship with Samantha Carter. They have a very special bond... they always have, and I think it's more so now that they are jointly raising Cassandra, whom Fraiser adopted in season two."

Teryl admires Janet Fraiser's strength, and has welcomed the opportunity to add depth to her, beyond her medical expertise. "I really wanted Janet to be able to show her feelings... her compassion... her sense of humor... to not always have to put on the 'doctor' face, you know? And they've certainly allowed me to bring that to the character. Fraiser is a very strong, intelligent woman... far more contained than 'Teryl,' but that's what I love about her. She's also not afraid to be a woman even though she works in a predominantly male environment." She laughs at the mention of another trademark bit of input that Teryl has given to the doctor. "My ever-changing hairdos!!! It really is constant, isn't it? Some hair styles have been the result of other shows, and some have been simply because I was bored. Simple as that." She likes the direction her character has taken, and looks forward to the opportunities ahead in season six. "I'd like to see more of the same. To show more of how deep her relationships are with these people, and I'd also like to see her go 'off-world' more often... to do more 'house calls' as it were."

As a doctor, Fraiser often finds herself in highly charged and emotional situations, dealing with life and death decisions, and facing the reality of the loss of someone close to her. In the episode Entity, Samantha Carter was being kept alive by machine, beyond all hope of resuscitation. The script called for Dr. Fraiser to broach the subject of a living will with Colonel O'Neill, and to suggest that the time had come to let Sam go. In Meridian, too, she faced the loss of a dear friend as she and Carter stood by helplessly and watched Daniel Jackson's condition deteriorate. These moments have been a particular challenge for Teryl. "The scene in Entity was particularly hard for me. I had to cap all the emotion that was coming up for me, 'Teryl,' and make it 'Janet.' As a doctor, she just couldn't allow herself to break down. To have to hold on to the tears that wanted to flood down my cheeks was a real challenge. The sound of the oxygen feeding her was a real killer for me as it brought back memories of me visiting my grandfather before he passed away. It just about killed me. As for Daniel 'ascending,' the emotion came easily, as we all knew that he was leaving the show, so it was a sad time for us all."

Does she ever draw her inspiration from the work of others in her profession? Teryl mentions several of her peers whose work she admires. "I would have to say Judi Dench... Anthony Hopkins... Patrick Stewart... Al Pacino... Meryl Streep... and I love the raw, openness of Angelina Jolie. I was also a huge fan of Lucille Ball. She was truly the Queen of Comedy."

However, even with role models such as these acting legends, sometimes a challenge comes along which calls for complete originality and very little in the way of a precedent, as Teryl discovered for her role in the episode Revelations. In quite the contrast to Dr. Fraiser, Teryl was called upon to become a very animated little alien. "Heimdall... what a fun time we had! I was asked by the producers to play this Asgard. I actually played Freyr as well. And I'm told Martin Wood, the director, requested me. We had a blast!" Earlier appearances by the Asgard, most notably Thor, had used animatronic puppets to bring the aliens to life, but new technology allowed Teryl to create an entirely new and lifelike character, and to inject her own personality and mannerisms into the little Asgard scientist as well. "I played the part in a jumpsuit that had an Asgard painted on the front so the other cast members could have the reference of the height of the character. We shot the whole episode and then later went back in where I had on a special suit with LOTS of lights all over the suit that would correspond with the computer. I'm sure I'm not explaining it very well. Really, it's a question for our Visual Effects person, James Tichenor, but suffice it to say that it was a tremendous amount of fun changing my voice, body language, walk, etc., etc..."

When she's not being called upon to be a doctor, or an alien, Teryl enjoys having time to herself. "My free time is usually spent having people over for dinner... movies... yoga... long walks... spending time with family... friends... I'm not a big party person. I really enjoy quiet time." She also enjoys the opportunities she has had to travel, and speaks enthusiastically of her experiences with the USO. "I've been honored to do two USO tours. My first was last July to Seoul, Korea. What an amazing experience! My second was with the rest of the cast to Qatar this past December, after 9/11. To be able to say thank-you to the men and women who give up their time and put their lives on the line for our freedom is one of the most gratifying things I have ever had the privilege of doing. I would do another USO tour in a heartbeat!!!!!"

She also loves meeting her fans, and has participated in a number of Stargate conventions. She is already scheduled to return to Gatecon in Vancouver this September. "I LOVE doing conventions! It's such a wonderful way to say thank-you to the fans in person. If it wasn't for them, we wouldn't have a show. They are so loyal, supportive and so very giving. I just can't thank them enough!"

Ritter, Kate. "Healer." July 8, 2002.

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